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Of Mice and Men Anticipation Guide Part 2

Ryan Lau
Period 6
Life in the Depression Compared With Life Today

Life during the Great depression was unimaginably difficult. Many people were jobless, and had no secondary source of income. A large percentage of the country had to deal with the most significant drought in American history, along with frequent dust storms. Farming was made nearly impossible by these frightening storms. To say that life today is more difficult than how life was during the Great Depression is preposterous. Life during the 1930’s was significantly more difficult than life is today.

During America’s worst economic era, unemployment rates skyrocketed. According to Gene Smiley, author of “Great Depression”, an article in the concise encyclopedia of economics, “In 1933, 25 percent of all workers and 37 percent of all nonfarm workers were completely out of work.” This astonishingly high number can be compared to the minute figure of 5.9, this representing the percentage of Americans who did not have any means of employment as of September 2014, according to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate, a major factor in determining the difficulty of life in a country, was significantly worse in the Depression, proving that life during that time period was also significantly worse.

Currently, it is highly unlikely you will find a dust storm anywhere in the Great Plains, because the soil is fertile and dense. However, during the 1930’s, due to the lack of rainfall, much of the soil changed to sand, resulting in violent dust storms anytime the wind blew hard enough. Arguably the most infamous dust storm, Black Sunday, as it was called by the people living in the Midwest at that time, claimed many lives and caused significant property damage. According to Avis D. Carlson, who wrote an article on Black Sunday for New Republic, “People caught in their own yards grope for the doorstep. Cars come to a standstill, for no light in the world can penetrate that swirling murk.” A natural disaster of this magnitude has not occurred on the Great Plains since the depression, the most difficult time to be an American.

Also due to the lack of rain, crops on the Great Plains could not fully grow or develop. The Great Plains is the main provider for nationwide food, so if they could not successfully grow their crops, they would not be able to ship them in large quantities to other parts of the country. Since the rest of America did not receive their crops, even those who lived in areas where the climate was not changed in the 1930’s took a direct hit in not being able to obtain their food. The little food that was shipped out was likely significantly more expensive, for if less food is being sold, it must be sold at a higher rate in order to maintain a constant profit. On the contrary, while there is some drought today in America, it is not nearly as bad as it had been in the 1930’s. Foods are shipped to supermarkets at a regular rate, so Americans can rely today on fresh food at reasonable prices. To summarize, the economical and environmental conditions during the Great Depression were much harder to live with than they are today.

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